Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador have the highest percentages of self-identified indigenous people, most of whom live in the highlands. The Quechua and other linguistic groups, such as the Aymara, have coexisted with the mestizos majority (people of mixed European and indigenous descent) for many centuries.
Their cultures are strong, autonomous and resilient to change and have influenced their country’s identity (through traditional music, food, language and superstition) to its core.
For travelers, experiencing these highland cultures firsthand can be as simple as getting on a bus, hanging around a typical village or shopping at a bustling local market. Here you will find the usual fare such as colorful ponchos, alpaca sweaters, Machu Picchu paintings and other crafts but also a funny little man: the Ekeko.
This ceramic doll symbolizes the Andean comerciante and odds are they look exactly like how you imagined an indigenous person from South America; colorfully dressed carrying many bags, in the Ekeko’s case filled with grains of rice, corn, sweets, confetti and even miniature dollar bills (or euros). This Andean buddy embodies abundance, fortune and prosperity…and makes for the perfect souvenir!
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